The worst legal defences ever
| THE OBESE DEFENCE
Richard Cooey, strung up on a double murder and rape charge in 1986, actually had his lawyers attempt to save him from an impending death penalty by arguing he was “too fat to die”. Seemingly, the negligent and cruel penitentiary system was responsible for the ginger-bearded beast’s colossal weight gain, but quite why they felt this was a good enough reason to keep him alive is uncertain. When this line of argument failed, the legal eagles proposed that the defendant’s medication might react badly to the lethal injection drugs. Unfortunately for Cooey, the judge didn’t buy into his last-gasp plea, deciding to roll the dice and proceed as normal.
| THE IGNORANCE DEFENCE
As moronic defences go, this laughable attempt at an acquittal from American lawyer George Thomas truly takes the biscuit. In a post-9/11 world, Thomas laboured to convince the judge that his client wasn’t aware his crime of forcing his way on to a plane, firing a gun at the ceiling and taking everyone on board hostage was in any way illegal. And as anyone who’s been to America or simply knows anything at ALL about 9/11 will attest, one thing the Americans do not treat lightly is screwing about on their aeroplanes. When uttering the word “bomb” can get you a $100,000 fine, it’s unsurprising that Thomas’ cretin of a client was sent down for a long, long time.
| THE CORONARY DEFENCE
Our favourite defence of the lot is that of Mr Keison Wilkins. On trial for various charges including felonious assault, felon in possession of a weapon and firing a gun into a habitation, Wilkins turned up to court in an all white two-piece suit seemingly borrowed from Liverpool’s 1996 cup final wardrobe. Some way through the trial, Wilkins went through the motions of appearing uncomfortable, clutching at his heart, then promptly collapsing in front of the entire gallery and highly unimpressed judge. Showcasing a commitment to his performance that would have impressed Daniel Day Lewis, Wilkins slumped into his chair and feigned unconsciousness for a full 40 minutes before being startled awake by the classic cure for all heart attack patients: smelling salts. Momentarily stirred, Wilkins went back to napping through the trial. The judge proceeded and gave him a 42-year sentence. Ahh well, it was worth a go son.
|THE DOMESTIC ABUSE DEFENCE
Louis Palmer, accused of sexual assault and ABH, tried to wangle his slimy self out of a conviction by announcing that sometimes “hysterical” women needed a bit of physical violence to “bring them around”. In true testament to Palmer’s character, this assault all took place on his stag night. His defence? “I just wanted to cheat on my wife in a filthy alley before our wedding, okay?” Despite this eloquent and measured excuse, the judge sentenced Palmer to seven years in jail. And, in a display of misguided loyalty that would have even John Terry’s wife shaking her head with disapproval, Palmer’s gal honoured their plans and got hitched before he went to prison.
|THE ‘ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING’ DEFENCE
“I picked up the loaded sawn-off shotgun while surrounded by armed police, but I don’t remember firing it.” Not exactly a watertight defence, but this was the justification offered by Michael Boyd after his arrest for opening fire on police officers following a domestic spat with his girlfriend. During the trial, he later admitted that he only entered this armed stand-off with the police to “teach his girlfriend a lesson”. The aforementioned lesson being that she apparently had no right to just go running off to Johnny Law every time Boyd “pushed” her face, (as he tried to have the jury believe). Boyd’s last excuse was arguably even more audacious, asserting to the jury that he didn’t actually ever open fire at all. Why? Because he didn’t have enough bullets to kill everyone, apparently. Sensible.
|THE NON-INSANE AUTOMATISM DEFENCE
A long-haul plane journey can, at times, be a taxing experience. When faced with a cramped 14 hours, running the risk of deep vein thrombosis and watching Meet the Fockers on repeat, even the calmest of us are sometimes one toddler’s kick on the back of our chair from throwing a 30,000-foot tantrum. Most, however, manage to successfully suppress these urges. But not REM’s Paul Buck. After sampling, in his own words, “a small amount of wine”, the guitarist went mad, covering a BA stewardess in yoghurt and verbally abusing the captain, stealing a knife and finally upending a drinks trolley (having unsuccessfully tried to play a CD in it). Citing a defense of ‘non insane automatism’, brought on by too much red wine and a few Ambiens, Buck claimed he had no idea what he was doing, and was therefore unable to control his actions, and miraculously he was let off. Talk about having All The Right Friends…